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Plumbing and Water Conservation

Green, Plumbing and Restrooms

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, plumbing and water conservation.

Even as the sustainability movement has gained speed, the concept of saving water largely has been a regional concern. And while water-efficient fixtures are available, they have not been used nearly as extensively as energy-efficient products.

Maintenance and engineering managers might have thought the options for water efficiency were either to go completely zero-water-consumption (in the case of urinals, for example) or implement operational strategies to reduce consumption (in the case of chillers). Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense label is elevating water-efficiency awareness to a national level. The label, like Energy Star, will give managers a seal of approval for water-efficient products.

As part of its efforts, the WaterSense program offers these actions managers can take to curtail indoor and domestic water use in institutional and commercial facilities:

  • Install high-efficiency dishwashing equipment, and run units only when full. Also, install high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves.
  • Install a garbage strainer instead of a garbage disposal.
  • Use air-cooled flake ice machines.
  • Retrofit restrooms with high-efficiency toilets, urinals, lavatory faucets and showerheads.
  • Install high-efficiency clothes-washing machines in laundry operations, and run them only when full.
  • Ensure steam sterilizers are equipped with tempering water-flow controls.

To curtail water use related to cooling and heating:
  • Optimize cooling tower performance to achieve the maximum cycles of concentration.
  • Consider alternative sources of water for cooling tower makeup.
  • Eliminate the use of single-pass cooling.
  • Return steam condensate to the boiler.

Finally, to curtail water use in outdoor areas, WaterSense suggests:
  • using a weather-based irrigation-control or soil-moisture sensor for automatic control of irrigation systems
  • choosing native, drought-resistant plants for landscaping
  • auditing and optimizing irrigation systems to achieve maximum distribution uniformity of water.

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